The news in politics this week has centered around three major events — the Iowa Caucus, the State of the Union Address, and Trump’s impending acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial. I am going to focus on the first event because the second is relatively inconsequential from my perspective and the third simply marks the end of a process that most people have known would be inconsequential from the onset (at least in terms of its main objective to remove Trump from The White House).
We still do not have the final results from the Iowa Caucus, nor do we have a declared winner, but it seems to be between Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders for the #1 spot, followed by Elizabeth Warren at #3 and Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar surprisingly close at #4 and #5 respectively with 71% of precincts reported. Typically, the complete results are announced the night of the caucus, which took place on Monday. That said, it has now been almost 48 hours and we still do not have the results because of a broken app that was intended to assist precinct leaders with reporting combined with the ineffectiveness of the phone lines that were supposed to serve as a backup for the app. The whole situation is a bit of a nightmare, especially in a national environment where people are increasingly mistrusting of institutions and authorities, skeptical of both the effectiveness and security of our democratic process, and hypersensitive to the truth or lack thereof behind much of the information that the public receives. Nonetheless, while we do not have a declared winner, we do have enough information to determine a handful of overall winners from this losing situation. Below are brief descriptions for the most notable five of them, in no particular order.
Mike Bloomberg took a risk by declaring his run for president after the date by which he would have needed to announce to be on the ballot for the initial caucuses and primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. He then doubled down by imploring the other Democrats in the race to focus more on the battleground states for the general election instead of the first states for the Democratic Primary. This mess in Iowa has to be a plus for his campaign. It is also worth mentioning that Bloomberg’s odds will increase dramatically if Biden falls early and the party turns to the elder mayor as the best centrist alternative to Bernie (or Warren if she were to somehow surge past him which I view as very doubtful). An unforeseeable and totally botched process with Pete beating Bernie for #1 and Klobuchar beating Biden for #4 would be a better outcome in Iowa than Bloomberg could have reasonably hoped for.
Pete Buttigieg may very well win the Iowa Caucus, and while he was projected to fair strongly in the state, I think most projections including FiveThirtyEight had him finishing third behind Bernie and Biden in first and second in either order. I do not think Pete is capable of beating Bloomberg for the less left vote among Democrats, but it appears he was very capable of dealing Biden a strong early blow that could lead to his eventual knockout. I personally believe it will come down to Bernie and/or Bloomberg to face Trump for the presidency, but if Pete does end up coming out on top in Iowa, he is my distant third pick. Then again, he was most people’s distant third pick for Iowa too.
Bernie Sanders will now be the heavy favorite for the nomination regardless of whether he finishes first or second in Iowa with Biden having had the really poor showing that he did and Warren finishing materially below him as well. Bernie is projected to win in New Hampshire next and Nevada after that and if Biden continues to struggle in those states then a win in South Carolina may no longer be a foregone conclusion. I am still a bit concerned about Bernie physically after the heart attack that voters have seemed to forget about surprisingly quickly, but politically Bernie seems to be in very good shape.
Donald Trump benefits from any situation that objectively looks bad for the Democratic Party. This was one of those situations, as was Nancy Pelosi’s literally ripping his speech at the State of the Union Address, but in the bigger picture the delay of the Iowa Caucus results should not be of material significance come election time. The results themselves however will of course impact the determination of who Trump will be running against and in that regard it seems much less likely that candidate will be Biden today than it did a week ago. I will not speculate as to whether that is a plus or a minus for Trump’s re-election bid, but if he would rather have faced Biden than Sanders or Bloomberg then it was not all good news out of Iowa for The President.
Amy Klobuchar is neck and neck with Joe Biden based on what has been reported so far and if anyone tells you they predicted that I would not believe them without written proof. I said in a previous post that Klobuchar does not have a chance and this result does not change that but it is impressive nonetheless and rightly demands some acknowledgement and respect.
Honorable Mention should be made of Elizabeth Warren who had a stronger than expected turnout, Andrew Yang who no one expected to be here at all, and the state of New Hampshire which most likely is going to look great so long as it goes more smoothly than Iowa, which I hope it does.
Ironically, my only experience in Iowa led me to be impressed by the state’s technology and reporting mechanisms, though the story involved a better group of former candidates for president. My buddy Will and I and our other friend Cam were on route to Mount Rushmore as part of a two-week roadtrip after graduation when we made a pit stop for dinner in Iowa before a night’s stay in Sioux Falls. My burger was just a bit better than alright, but I remember clearly observing that the on-table computer systems for placing our orders were phenomenal and surprisingly better than most similar technologies I had seen in cities like Nashville, San Francisco, and New York. It is unfortunate that Iowa’s evident technological prowess as I observed it did not show well on Monday.